• Diane Mack: Remember firefighters who sacrifice for us

  • Arizona is well known for mountain fires. The dry desert terrain, careless irresponsible campers, and lightning are sometimes the cause of very destructive fires.

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  • Arizona is well known for mountain fires. The dry desert terrain, careless irresponsible campers, and lightning are sometimes the cause of very destructive fires.
    When we lived in Arizona at the base of Mount Graham, there was more than one summer night, when the kids were afraid to sleep because “mom, Mount Graham is on fire, again.”
    It was eerie, even frightening, for me, to go to bed when the mountain was ablaze.
    I have two nephews, Michael and Matthew, both in college, who have worked summers fighting fires for the Arizona BLM, Bureau of Land Management. They are hard working young men, who I often worry about.
    And I worry about all of our firefighters, on land or mountain.
    By now, I’m sure you have heard the devastating news of the Prescott Granite Mountain Hotshot Fire crew battling the Yarnel Hill fire.
    USA Today reported, “Nineteen elite firefighters died battling a fast-moving wildfire here Sunday and an estimated 200 homes were destroyed in the country’s worst wildfire disaster in at least 30 years, officials said.
    “Gusting winds and dry grass fed the blaze as it tore through the communities of Yarnell and Glen Isla about 85 miles northwest of Phoenix.
    “It’s a dark day,” said Mike Reichling, Arizona State Forestry Division spokesman.”
    “Reichling said the 19 firefighters were found in an area that also had 19 fire shelters deployed. Some of them were found inside their shelters, which are tent-like structures meant to shield firefighters from flames and heat. They are typically used as a last resort.”
    The loss of these brave firefighters grieves me. Since I heard about the news, I have worried about my nephews
    The National Fire Protection Association website lists the last wild land fire to kill more firefighters as the 1933 Griffith Park fire of Los Angeles, which killed 29. The most firefighters killed were 340, who died during the 9/11 terrorist attacks in New York, according to the website.
    Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer offered her condolences to the families of the fallen in a statement late Sunday.
    “This is as dark a day as I can remember, with Arizona suffering the truly unimaginable loss of 19 wild land firefighters,” the statement said. “It may be days or longer before an investigation reveals how this tragedy occurred. When a tragedy like this strikes, all we can do is offer our eternal gratitude to the fallen, and prayers for the families and friends left behind. God bless them all.”
    Fox News reported, “The fire killed all but one member of the Prescott Granite Mountain Hotshots crew, which were known for battling the region’s worst fires, including two earlier this season. The average age of the men in the crew was 22-years-old, Fox 10 reports.
    Page 2 of 2 - AzCentral.com reported, “The Yarnell Hill Fire, ignited at about 5:30 p.m. Friday, was moving north and east at the rate of about half a mile per hour, fire officials said.”
    “There were expected to be about 400 firefighters arriving Sunday night and on Monday.”
    “Firefighters were establishing structure protection in the Yarnell area and directly attacking the fire along its eastern flank.”
    Fire can be a good thing. A warm hearth fire on a cold winter night, marshmallows at a campfire, and 29 candles on my last birthday cake, are good uses for fire.
    However, even a very small fire can get out of control and burn down a huge home, destroy a beautiful mountain, and cause injury, or death, to strong brave firefighters.
    Please pray for these firefighters’ families and be especially safe on the Fourth of July. Enjoy the holiday.
    Diane Mack is coordinator of Putting Families First, Jackson County’s Family Week Foundation. Email her at jacksoncountyfamilyweek@yahoo.com or visit www.jacksoncountyfamilyweek.org.

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